When it launched the £450 Funk, the Funk Firm put a seriously big firework under the budget turntable world. This strange-looking deck with its lightweight platter and ball-shaped feet turned out to be a giant slayer when we tested it.
The Funk and Funk V are based on the same MDF plinth and come ready cut-out for a Rega tonearm. They also share Sorbothane damping, which decouples the ball feet from the plinth and even have the same plug-top power transformer with electronic speed switching built into the plinth.
What differentiates the more costly Funk V is its Vector drive system - the belt runs around two asymmetrically placed pulleys as well as the motor spindle, so it makes contact with the acrylic sub-platter at three points.
Funk Firm's reasoning is that in a normal belt drive system, the belt pulls the subplatter and bearing in one direction and this means that even the smallest deviations in the bearing shaft will cause a rocking motion in the platter. This movement, though small, is greater than the contours in the vinyl groove and thus causes distortion, with adverse sonic results.
Other differences include a closer tolerance bearing and a dish in the expanded polyvinyl Achroplat platter, so that the supplied clamp achieves optimal contact with the record. Oh, and its looks have been upgraded too, with a metallic paint finish, transparent plastic feet and a nicer speed/on/off switch.
Like the 'standard' model, the Funk V turntable is extraordinarily revealing. It highlights the performance of cartridges so brilliantly that it can be used a myriad of designs without sounding mismatched. It might sound ludicrous, but if you really want to hear what this deck is capable of, try it with a two-grand van den Hul Condor cartridge - we did, and it was fabulous!
Thinking more realistically price-wise, try Sumiko's Blue Point Special Evo III (£240) on the end of a Rega RB300 arm (£188). This bodyless moving coil cartridge is a great sonic match, but bear in mind that the on/off/speed control knob is close to the stylus when the arm is at rest; heavy hands on the controls and a denuded cartridge could spell trashed styli.
The V is a rather more sophisticated version of the standard Funk in both finish and sound. It is calmer and more resolute and thus even better at resolving fine detail. Fortunately, it also retains the qualities that make the basic Funk so entertaining. So, great energy and a snappy sense of timing are still on the menu, but now you can hear what's going on at low levels rather more clearly.
This is a remarkably fine and subtle-sounding deck for the money. The advantages of the Achroplat are clearer thanks to Vector drive and the sound is cleaner, finer and calmer than the standard Funk. We challenge you to find a lower distortion deck at anywhere near this price. Jason Kennedy